Antigua and Barbuda is taking the first steps to reopen its borders to commercial, international travel Thursday, June 4 with its first flight from American Airlines out of Miami.
In an online meeting with media, government and tourism officials said the tourism-dependent Caribbean has been hard-hit as a result of COVID-19 (coronavirus), forcing borders to close in mid-March. According to research conducted in partnership with ForwardKeys, destinations in the region saw declines in arrivals up to 91 percent; however, Colin James, CEO, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority said the destination fared better than the regional average with a 72 percent decrease in bookings. He added that bookings are on an upwards trajectory and that a majority of bookings will come in the final three months of the year.
Note: Antigua and Barbuda has opened its borders to all countries.
As part of the phased reopening, American will operate a daily flight from Miami. No additional flights are planned at this time. Upon arrival at V.C. Bird International Airport, travelers will be required to wear a mask before disembarking and through the airport. Guests will also have to complete a paper health declaration form (which will soon be digitized); undergo health and temperature screenings and a nasal swab testing for COVID-19. At present, there is no cost for the test, but all visitors will be notified in advance of any such changes.
With regard to airport transfers, up to four members of a family are allowed in a single vehicle, while larger commercial passenger transport vehicles are permitted to carry only 50 percent of the vehicle seating capacity. Vehicles must be kept clean and sanitized after each trip, and all will be equipped with hand sanitizer. All vehicles will be subject to random inspections by public health officers and certified vehicles will clearly display a decal indicating safety approval.
Good to know: While face coverings will not be required on any beach, where social distancing measures can be enforced, travelers are asked to wear a mask on property when they come into contact with other guests or staff. While dining, guests will not be required to wear a mask. There will be reduced touchpoints (i.e.: online check-in); a secondary screening upon arrival; guestrooms will be sealed after cleaning; and doctors and nurses on call.
All beaches in Antigua and Barbuda are open on weekdays and weekends from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the current curfew period, which ends on June 12.
Current open resorts include The Admiral's Inn, Antigua Village, Buccaneer Beach Club, Hawskbill Resort, Heritage Hotel, Hodges Bay Resort & Spa, Tamarind Hills, Hammock Cove Resort & Spa and Sandals Grande Antigua. Several others are to open later in June or in early July.
This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.